22 June 2007

Whatever happened to the single market?

The French delegation apparently managed to had changed the Reform Treaty's draft without anyone noticing, even though the document was circulated by the German Presidency on Tuesday. The clause "The Union shall establish an internal market where competition is free and undistorted", which was in the original Treaty establishing a Constitution for Europe (Article I-3 (2)), was replaced by "The Union shall establish an internal market".

That could be interpreted as a sop to the French voters, who are believed to have rejected the Constitution mainly on the grounds that it was paving a way for a liberal, "Anglo-Saxon" Europe. However, it could also be that Sarkozy wants to change the EU law so the Commission couldn't take the French government to the European Court of Justice over its pursuit of subsidising national industrial champions and protecting them from "hostile" mergers.

While the French amendment remains in place, the British are keen to explain that it will have no effect. If it will have no effect, why not change it back?

The EU desperately needs a much clearer commitment to creating a real common market. The "four freedoms"- free movement of goods, free movement of labour, free movement of services and free movement of capital - are not being upheld at the moment.

Not only there is restricted access to labour markets for the citizens from the new member states, but there are also plentiful barriers to an effective common market in services. The watered-down services directive is a good example of politicians' unwillingness to live up to the promise made by signing the Single European Act in the Hague 20 years ago: to create a single market.


Andreas said...

I do agree, it is really outrageous that suddenly competition policy became an issue at the summit. Let's hope that the lawyers are right who claim that this will have no impact on EU law. But then again, if nothing will change why is it such a big deal for Sarkozy?

Tomáš Ruta said...

Exactly. The sad irony is that the "only thing" Brits voted for 1975 is now put in doubt...

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